Former Ontario lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander is wondering which meeting he chaired Monday in Toronto.
It wasn't a memory lapse that had him posing that question yesterday. Rather, it was a three-page statement by Craig Bromell, the controversial president of the Toronto Police Association. In it, Mr. Bromell, who has been called a bully for his feistiness and no-holds-barred defence of his members, outlines his disagreement with almost everything coming out of the summit.
"It is as if he attended a different meeting," Mr. Alexander said, portraying Mr. Bromell's comments as a slap in the face of the others who sat around the table with him for three hours to discuss the sensitive issue of racism and racial profiling by police.
"Point by point, Mr. Bromell's statement is disputed by the facts," Mr. Alexander, now the head of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, which sponsored the meeting, said in his own statement.
Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino also stepped into the debate with a confidential memo sent to all members of the force because he felt it was necessary to clarify his own stand at the meeting.
Mr. Alexander called for the meeting with politicians from all three levels of government and the heads of law-enforcement organizations after a series of articles by The Toronto Star alleged Toronto police are racist and treat people differently depending on their skin colour.
Mr. Bromell has filed a $2.1-billion lawsuit against the newspaper, claiming it targeted all officers as racist and that its conclusions based on a survey of thousands of criminal records are flawed.
Mr. Bromell did not stay after the meeting at a downtown Toronto hotel for a news conference, at which Mr. Alexander announced the group had reached a meeting of the minds and a consensus, one that included the police association, that racism and racial profiling exist in police forces across the country.
In his statement to 7,000 association members, Mr. Bromell denies he agreed with that conclusion.
"I made it clear [at the meeting]that no racial profiling is being done by any members from the top to the bottom of the Toronto Police Service."
Racism, he told the closed-door meeting, exists in all sectors of society. "However, it is a minuscule problem within our service that does not warrant change because there is already a system in place to weed out racism."
He denounced the group's recommendation that the current public-complaints system is seriously flawed.
"I made it clear that the Toronto Police Association . . . will challenge any change that would bring in any civilian oversight to the complaint procedure," he wrote. Such a system would be used by "certain people who would do anything to convict a cop."
He will not allow this to happen, he said, and warned: "Do not paint us in a corner or we will come out fighting."
Mr. Bromell told his members that there were others in the room who also disagreed with the statement Mr. Alexander was going to distribute to the media.
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